Friday, April 15, 2011

HARRISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA

The Box at the Broad Street Market.
The Box is back!

Yesterday was a beautiful spring day, warm but not too warm, and sunny. I had been invited to have lunch with my friend David at the Gingerbread Man on Market Street. I drove the Box downtown and parked on the roof of the Chestnut Street parking garage. From there you get a good view of the city's east side, and since I had some time to kill, I whipped out my new camera and trotted over to the edge of the roof.

I was expecting someone to come out of the office building to which the garage is attached and question my "suspicious activity." I recall once some people being questioned while taking pictures of trains on a track -- you know, those train nuts who love anything that weighs a million tons and moves. I also got the evil eye once when taking a picture of the new state judicial center, the latest addition to the Capitol Complex. The Capitol police officer's radar clicked in, and he watched me closely. Alas, I aroused no response on the garage roof. If I had fallen over the edge, it would have gone unnoticed.

Market Street fa├žades.
Finally, it was time to descend to street level to meet David. I had some time to take a few street-level pictures then. One was of a sunny Market Street, focusing on the facades of the old stores that I frequented as a kid, back in the 1950s. There is a 5&10 building (I think it was Woolworth's), and the old Bowman's Department Store building, where the Gingerbread Man is located.

Most Saturdays my elementary school friend Bill and I would take the bus (the fare was 17 cents each way) from uptown down to Market Street. We haunted the five and dimes and the record shops. Sometimes we had a burger at the Blue-White Grill, always sitting at the counter. Other times we would get off the bus in front of the State Capitol and poke around in the rotunda or go next store to the State Museum, which was housed in the current Speaker Matthew Ryan Office Building, the one with the half-round portico and gorgeous interior. Mr. Lincoln greeted you from the room at the top of the grand staircase. That all was lost in the new museum building.

Anyway, David and I had a nice lunch. I had a grilled Rachel sandwich, made with turkey, Swiss cheese, cole slaw, and Russian dressing. It was accompanied by the crunchiest and saltiest chips ever. I also had a diet Pepsi, although I am a diet Coke man. It was the fizz of a carbonated drink I was after. Each order included a small gingerbread man cookie! Naturally, I felt it would be impolite not to consume it.

My favorite weeping cherry trees.
David had to go back to work, but I spent a little more time taking pictures at street level, including the Rachel Carson state office building, and the lane of flowering trees at the train station.

Having some time before meeting with the pastors at Market Square Church about the Easter morning service, I decided to head out over the State Street Bridge (real name: Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Bridge) to the Harrisburg Cemetery to check out the state of the flowering trees there. Blooms are freshly opened and looking very pretty. Along with the historic grave markers of all sorts, they made for a number of beautiful vistas.

Cameron Family plot at Harrisburg Cemetery.
One grave that interested me in particular was that of Simon Cameron, U.S. Senator and Lincoln's Secretary of War and later Ambassador to Russia. Cameron lived in the house built by John Harris, the city's founder, c. 1766. Cameron lived in the house from 1863 to 1889, transforming it into a Victorian mansion in the Italianate style. It's now the home of the Historical Society of Dauphin County, where I serve on the board of directors.

Simon and his wife and children are buried in the family plot, and there are quite a few other graves of people whose names and relationship to Cameron are unknown to me.

On the way back to the church I stopped at the Broad Street Market for a stroll up and down the aisles of the brick building. I like the hustle and bustle of the place and enjoy seeing the fresh produce and baked goods. I also like the variety of people you see there, a cross-section of Harrisburg's multicultural population.

Market Square Church's spire.
At 2:15 p.m. I arrived at the church for my meeting, during which I got the assignment of searching for a large Bible for the pulpit. On the way home, I stopped at two church supply stores, neither of which had a Bible in stock, and each of which wanted about $500 for such a book. When I got home I looked online and found pretty much the same thing, except for a super-dandy version, hand-printed and hand-colored, for $8,500. I wonder what I could find at Ollie's.



Here are some photos from my day in town:

 The Pennsylvania State Capitol seen from Fourth Street.

 The historic caretaker's cottage at the Harrisburg Cemetery.

 Downtown Harrisburg buildings seen in the Box's mirror.

 Another cemetery landscape.

Pretty in pink.

 This artwork greets visitors to the 
Rachel Carson State Office Building.

I like the mist-like quality of these trees lining the lane
at the Harrisburg Transportation Center.

 The spire of Zion Lutheran Church on Fourth Street.

Christ Lutheran Church on Thirteenth Street 
as seen from the garage roof.
Looking from the garage toward Second and Chestnut streets. 
That is Salem UCC on the left and Market Square Church's spire toward the right.

St. Michael Lutheran Church Easter Eggs
on sale at the Catholic Shop. 
True ecumenism!


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